Review by Snazzy
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer takes the home decorating aspect of the main AC games, specifically New Leaf, and builds upon that, making it the focus of the game. HHD puts the player in the position of a Happy Home Academy worker who helps design homes for animals, and eventually, various places on this game's Main Street. Said places include a school, doctor's office, hotel, and many more. You'll see many familiar faces like Tom Nook, Isabelle, Lyle, Digby, and many of your favorite villagers, followed by newcomer Lottie.
Now, for the actual gameplay. As previously mentioned, this game focuses on the home design aspect of Animal Crossing.... and it does a fantastic job. You no longer have to manually push and pull items and can instead slide and position them with the touch screen, which provides a grid-like "map" of the home you are currently working on. You can pick and choose which items to use from your catalog (which you fill up by designing new homes, since villagers will give you items to help meet their requirements), and place the furniture anywhere you'd like. The game doesn't require you to be creative, since the requirements are often simple, but it's encouraged. Now, in the mainline Animal Crossing games, you can only decorate the outside of your house. But in HHD, you can decorate the front yard of a home with trees, flowers, bushes, other furniture, and even those beloved custom patterns you can find all over tumblr.
Happy Home Designer also utilizes the New 3DS' amiibo functionality (however if you have a regular 3DS, all is not lost. You can purchase an NFC reader, and some copies of HHD come packaged with one). You can scan Animal Crossing Amiibo figures or cards to get that character to appear in the game, and you can design a home for them. For example, I could scan my Mable Amiibo, or my Kapp'n card that came with my copy, and either design a place for them or have them show up in someone else's home to hang out. Overall, the Amiibo functionality is pretty good.
Now, I said earlier that HHD does a fantastic job at improving the decoration gameplay from mainline AC games, and it does. But, that's also all it does. There's really nothing to do outside of just making homes. This game, while granted it is a spin-off, feels like a shambling skeleton of Animal Crossing. It's a pretty empty experience that leaves you wanting more. This game is best played in short bursts and is not to be binged. I learned that the hard way and unlocked everything in less than 10 hours.
Again, HHD is good to just pick up and play every now and again or if you really like to design homes for animals. I give it a 2.5/5, with it still being a better buy than Amiibo Festival.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (US, 09/25/15)
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